Hampton University
Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute to Hold Press Conference in Richmond, Virginia Highlighting Unfairness in General Assembly Funding
09/21/2020 - #51

HAMPTON, VA. (September 21, 2020) - On Tuesday, September 22, at 11 am, the Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute (HUPTI) will hold a media event at Richmond’s 17th Street Market in Shockoe Bottom to bring attention to the $11.1 million in funding HUPTI was previously included in Governor Ralph Northam’s budget in the Virginia General Assembly. HUPTI is also calling attention to funding requests for $50 million in support from the Virginia General Assembly in their fight against cancer. Bill Thomas, Hampton University Associate Vice President of Governmental Relations, will be joined by HUPTI graduates.

Some of the other private institutions that have received state funding include Liberty University’s medical school, which received $20.5 million in 2019, and $59 million for Eastern Virginia Medical School, which was requested by Governor Ralph Northam when he was a state senator. None of these funds was originally in the state’s proposed budget.

Cancer is the leading cause of death in Virginia where African Americans face overwhelming disparities. regarding the incidence and mortality rates of cancer.  During COVID Cancer is among the main underlying causes of death for Covid-19, which has also disproportionally affected the Black community. As an example, Black males have a 72% higher incidence rate of prostate cancer than white males.

With cancer claiming the lives of Black Panther actor Chadwick Boseman, as well as former NBA All-Star Clifford Robinson, aged 43 and 53, respectively, within the last few weeks, it is clear that the epidemic level health iniquities seen in the Black community are not tied to life stage or socioeconomic status. “Being rich, prominent, and young won’t even counteract this if you’re Black, so just imagine if you’re old and poor." Mr. Thomas said.

Several supporters of the Proton Therapy Institute, including former Virginia State Delegate David Yancey and Attorney Ida McPherson, recently spoke out at a press conference in front of Hampton University’s historic Emancipation Oak, in support of the need for these funds from the General Assembly, to ensure HUPTI continues to ease human misery and save lives.

At the event, Mr. Bill Thomas spoke on the reasoning behind this vital call to action for fairness in funding. “Over the past 10 years, other private institutions have received funding from the Virginia Assembly, yet they have told us consistently that Hampton University could not receive the funds that were requested from the Virginia General Assembly because we are a private Historically Black College University (HBCU). Yet the Commonwealth has provided funding to other private businesses and universities in several instances." Thomas said.  Other examples include:

$58.0 million to Northrop Grumman, Newport News, Virginia
$59.0 million to Carilion Clinic, Roanoke, Virginia
$20.5 million in grants to Kings college, a private college located in Bristol, Tennessee
(later mostly rescinded)

Back in 2005, Hampton University President, Dr. William R. Harvey had the dream and vision to build HUPTI, which has now treated over 3,000 patients for breast, lung, prostate, GI, brain, spine, pediatric, and other cancers. It is the largest freestanding proton therapy facility in the world and was only the eighth of its kind in the country when it started treating patients in September 2010; Hampton was also the first HBCU to develop a proton center. This month, HUPTI is celebrating its 10-year anniversary.

David Yancey, whose father is now a prostate cancer survivor and recent graduate of the Institute, spoke on how grateful he is for the lifesaving, millimeter precise, and non-invasive treatment his father received there. “HUPTI helped take away the pain of cancer from my father. We are so grateful for the doctors, the staff, nurses, even the security guard who helped my father every day in and out of the wheelchair. They were family,” Yancey said. “In the same way I would encourage the state of Virginia to look at what we’re doing on the national side in the fight against COVID, by having everyone work together, the Commonwealth can find a way to work together to find a cure for this debilitating disease.”

At the press conference, Mr. Thomas will also address the inequalities in payment of claims by insurance carriers and how the presence of health care is not a guarantee that a person will receive the care they choose.  “Insurance carriers are discriminating against us in approving proton therapy as a viable form of treatment, and then for those who choose to get proton therapy treatment, not paying their claims.  It’s just another form of discrimination against people.  So, it doesn’t matter what type of insurance you have, if your carrier won’t approve your treatment or pay your claim once you get it.  These inequities in funding for the Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute must stop.   The denial of approval for treatment has cost people their lives and now these insurance carriers are so greedy that they won’t even pay the claims of their insureds. “Thomas remarked.

The press conference will address the statistics given to the state legislators and the Virginia Department of Health on how cancer is impacting the lives of all people in Virginia and the inequalities and disparities that are impacting the health and safety of Virginians and especially an HBCU that has invested over 250 million in a leading health care facility in Virginia that should be supported.

The event will comply with all CDC guidelines, face coverings, and social distancing will be practiced.  

For additional information, please call (757) 727-5310 or email bill.thomas@hamptonu.edu.

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